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Maytag Taps Beer For Second Round At Majap Division

NEWTON, IOWA -In another move to reinstate the old guard, Maytag has picked Bill Beer to replace Lawrence J. Blanford as president of the company’s major appliance division. The change in leadership comes on the heels of slumped sales reports, as well as a similar personnel change last November, when then-CEO Lloyd Ward was replaced after only 14 months by his predecessor, Len Hadley. Hadley was called out of retirement to take over on an interim basis and now serves as Maytag president/CEO.Such top-echelon changes may be attributed to the Maytag Home Appliance division’s recent poor financial results. The division reported consolidated fourth-quarter sales of $991.3 million, down 6.7 percent, compared with $1.1 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Overall revenue for the fourth quarter was down 6.4 percent from the $939.5 million recorded in the same three months in 1999. For the year, the segment recorded sales of $3.7 billion, relatively flat compared with year-end sales in 1999.

Beer will return to the position he first acquired in 1998.

After joining Maytag in 1974 and serving in marketing, market research and strategic planning roles in the major appliance division and on corporate staff, Beer served as VP of strategic marketing and senior VP for the major appliance division. He became president of the major appliance division in 1998, where he stayed until August 2000, when he took on a new role with corporate staff under Ward.

Shortly thereafter, Beer left Maytag but remained a consultant to the company.

“We are delighted Bill will step back into this critical role,” said Hadley. “The breadth of [his] experience, plus his knowledge of the Maytag organization, give him an ideal set of strengths with which to lead our major appliance business in a constantly changing industry.”

Meanwhile, Blanford, who joined Maytag in 1997 as VP of strategic marketing for major appliances and just accepted the position as president last August, resigned and will be leaving the company.

Unlike Ward’s resignation, no reason was given for Blanford’s departure.

In November, Maytag attributed Ward’s sudden resignation to “a difference with the board of directors over the company’s strategic outlook and direction.” The fundamentals of Maytag’s high-end appliance business had begun to deteriorate during his tenure, as steeper interest rates slowed big-ticket sales and majaps came under increased pricing pressure.

To his credit, Ward launched successful products such as the Neptune washer and Gemini twin-oven range, and laid out an ambitious plan to cut costs, exploit e-commerce, build smart appliances and expand abroad.

In contrast, during Hadley’s original tenure as chairman/CEO, Maytag’s annual sales grew over 60 percent, from $2.47 billion in 1993 to $4.07 billion in 1998